x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Search is on for peace of mind in a stressed-out capital city

A free lecture tomorrow by Mike George, a British author and expert on stress management, hopes to ease capital's residents.

ABU DHABI // Sona Bahri has been studying and teaching meditation in the capital for 20 years. And she has never seen stress levels in Abu Dhabi as high as they are today. "I see society and relationships crumbling," she said. "Divorce rates, road rage, petty crime and general intolerance are increasing so much that I wonder how the human spirit survives."

Ms Bahri believes the fast pace and complexities of modern living make feelings of tension and anxiety nearly impossible to avoid. But she is trying to help her fellow residents cope by sponsoring a free lecture tomorrow by Mike George, a British author and expert on stress management. The event can accommodate up to 250 people and will be held at 3pm at the Rotana Beach Hotel. Ms Bahri, 38, said she is paying for the lecture out of donations she collected. "Every human being was born to have peace of mind; we can't charge for it. It is like air and water: we can't survive without it."

Mr George, who has written books such as 1001 Ways to Relax and Don't Get Mad, Get Wise, wants to help anxious people help themselves. He said that people "neglect to cultivate" three areas of their lives: "self-understanding, self-awareness and self-management. I teach people to give themselves time, but I can only point them in the right direction. In the end they have to do the work themselves".Stress is making us ill, Ms Bahri said. It has been linked not only to mental problems but also physical ailments like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and to chronic conditions like diabetes.

Dr Awatif Sharaf, a family physician with the Ministry of Health in Bahrain, has found Mr George's lectures to be helpful. "There are many triggers for stress in our modern lives," she said. "We have more obligations, more deadlines. There is an urgency to everything." She added: "Meditation practised properly is proven to be better for our metabolism, cholesterol and endorphin levels and it releases more oxygen into the brain."

Those who plan to attend the event are asked to register with Ms Bahri at bksona@gmail.com @Email:aseaman@thenational.ae